Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cheap Traveling

I have been out for about 2 weeks because my husband and I were camping up north while visiting my mother, other relatives, and some friends. We camp because we like it, but it doesn't hurt that it is cheap, especially since my husband gets the senior citizen discount of 10% off the cost. Actually, the hard work of camping is setting up and taking down our campsite. The rest of the time is pretty easy, and we can slow down so quickly.

No television? No problem. I read Truth plus jokes by Al Franken, 2006, and Rome Wasn't Burnt in One Day by Joe Scarborough, 2004. I find it interesting to see what others say about our political history when it is still rather recent. Aside: Franken's book was not as good as his book Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. I also read a few of Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer mysteries. In the way of e-books, since we have a tent ... on the ground ... with air mattresses and sleeping bags, I read Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Boroughs, Othello by William Shakespeare, and I started The Republic by Plato. It's much easier to read an e-book in a tent than reading a bound book by flashlight. I did not take any school stuff with me because I know that I will never touch it and that it will wear on my brain.

While we were visiting my mother, I worked on the tablecloth that I am embroidering for my daughter and son-in-law. Note to self: never again agree to embroider anything with so many satin stitches in it. It looks more beautiful as I finish each section, but it takes hours to do! Being a person who needs to move while talking, etc., I find knitting, stitching, working crosswords, etc. helps me center on the conversation. Okay. I do not listen so well when I work crosswords, but the rest is true. I wonder if I would have been labelled ADD when I was a student if I were in school now.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The albatross around my neck

Yesterday I finished up for another school year which means this year that I did my last duty, at least I hope my last, as math department chairman. I feel so free of that albatross. I have been looking forward to having more time to work on my classes, the school's technology, and my own life outside of school. It is so nice to be rid of that title. Good luck to the next math chairman.

As I start my summer "vacation" (actually 2 months of unpaid leave), I am enjoying catching up on reading the local newspaper and planning what fun things I will do for myself. First off: work on my teaching wardrobe. I enjoy sewing but for some reason I haven't done much over the past 2 summers, so I am really looking forward to this. My sister presented an idea of planning a wardrobe and then sewing it ... I may have this mixed up, but anyhow I will sew this summer for clothing and fun.

In addition, I have to start planning to teach a new-to-me subject of probability and statistics. It shouldn't be too much trouble since my first degree was in statistics, and the stat I'll be teaching is rather elementary compared to what I learned. I do a certain amount of planning in the summer just to decrease what I have to do once school starts up again at the end of August. Hmm, sewing and planning. Sounds like a full summer to me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sometimes a not-so-great notion ...

Let this serve as a warning to all student teachers, new teachers, and teachers-to-be. I am paying today with a check ($142.53) to cover my error in judgement when I decided to bring myself down to the level of my students.

I was walking to the computer lab when I stopped at the ministry office's student hangout to pick up some of my computer science students. One tried to hide behind the door, so I decided to play a prank on him. I enlisted the assistance of some of the other students, and we all pushed against the door. I thought that he would eventually give up and cry "uncle" after which we would all go on to the lab in a good mood. Instead, he pushed back by putting his elbows on the bottom frame of the window in the door, thereby breaking the window. Since I was the adult in charge, let alone the instigator of the situation, I offered to pay for the window. That's one prank that I will never repeat.

As an aside, I was amused by the response of my computer science students to my owning up to what I had done and to my freely offering to pay for the damage. In a public school I could understand their response of "why would you go out of your way to admit and make reparations when there were no other adults to witness your actions?" My school is a religious-backed school, though, so the students' view was surprising to me. The financial cost of my error is well worth it if I have been a good role model in the art of responsibility.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Faculty Freestore

Today is "Awards Day", the last day in which I give out underclassmen awards because I am resigning the math department chairmanship this year. It is also my last chance to add to my version of a "faculty freestore" for this year. Every year when the students clean out their lockers, they trash a lot of good 3-ring binders, unused looseleaf notebook paper, almost unused spiral notebooks, and other useful stuff. So I do some serious rag-and-boning -- dumpster diving is what my students call it -- to offer freebies to the faculty before they leave for the summer. I started this when I taught in the public schools but only for my own use. When I started at this private school I found that I ended up with far more than I could ever use in a year, so I began my annual faculty freestore event.

The English, religion, and history departments get most of the looseleaf paper because so many times students "forgot" to bring extra paper to class. The math department scarfs up most of the graph paper; I give the remaining graph paper to the science department. Textbooks in good shape go first to students in need, then to the departments. Same for reading books. Of course, there are the extras: pencils, pens, locker shelves, assorted other locker storage items, and the various plastic folders, etc. Every time we have a teacher new to the school, he/she is amazed at what is offered at the end of the school year. If all goes well, my students in their 24 minute classes today will help me set up the store so that I can have teachers pick up their supplies before leaving school today. Talk about practical recycling!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I start at the end

The school year is almost over, yet I start to tell my teacher story. I am a math and computer science teacher at a private high school in the U.S. southeast. I call myself the "Yoda of Math" because I once had a student who gave me that name. It is my intent to talk about education in general, academia in specific, mathematics and computer science education, the life of a teacher, and any whatever else catches my fancy.